Aaron, a high school multimedia teacher, recently wrote to me and said:
“I need a good storyboard lesson. I know they are important. Just not good teaching them. Any resources for me?”
I am a big fan of the storyboard. It allows students time to critically think about and plan their production before picking up a camera. Yet, I am not an artist and I don’t expect my students to be either. Stick figures and shapes work great to create a shot plan that can translate to their project.
So although I don’t take a lot of time to teach the storyboard per se, I do make sure students plan out what shots they think they will want and need.
Here are some helpful tips to consider:
- Use a Storyboard template to plan your shots. Draw out the idea of the visual in the box on the left, and then write the action on the lines to the right. Basic ideas work great. For example, if the shot should be a wide shot of a person and their camera on a tripod, fill the box on the storyboard with that image to visually identify what the shot will look like in your viewfinder. Then on the lines on the right, explain what is happening in the shot.
- Plan to record a WIDE, MEDIUM, & TIGHT of every shot. This allows your students to sequence their story later in editing. Shoot to edit in mind every time.
- Make sure to account for audio; ambient sounds, natural sounds, echo, by writing these notes down on your storyboard. Audio is just as important as video, if not more.
- Utilize what I call the “circle spectrum.” Imagine an invisible circle around the action or event taking place. Now go INSIDE the circle to capture your shots to find creative and unique angles and distances viewers will find interesting. Give your viewers unique access to your subject. Don’t be on the outside looking in. Be in the action.
- When planning for ACTION shots, make sure to record at least 1 REACTION shot for each action shot. The emotion is in the reaction on the audience’s face, the crowd going wild, the tears of joy… not necessarily on the action. Get to the emotion and plan for it on the storyboard!
- Never have 2 of the same shots in a row, such as wide-wide, medium-medium, close-close. Therefore, every edit should be from a different camera distance and angle. If the student planned this out on their storyboard, they will love editing their video because they will have plenty of great footage to choose from.
- Finally, if interviewing multiple people alternate the Rule of Thirds for the interviewees – left third/right third, especially if videotaping the interviews in the same location. Offering a variety of locations and backgrounds for those people being interviewed is visually interesting and won’t confuse the viewer.
If you would like to view some basic storyboarding and video production techniques, visit my Video Production Tips page on my website.
For other great broadcast and video production ideas, make sure to visit the JEADigitalMedia Guide to Broadcast/Video.
Other ideas or thoughts about storyboards? Please share in the comments.